Starting a business in Africa can seem like such a headache. Listening to entrepreneurial talks by experts and moguls can be quite frightening and they seem to have access to resources that are beyond reach.
Beyond having the right mindset, starting a small business requires a solid plan.
Research into the market or industry you wish to operate in. If you are going to be innovative and create your own niche, then research comprehensively into the problem / issue you are tackling and the solution you want to offer to the consumers.
Put a solid plan together. This plan should include the targets you want to meet and the timelines you have set to meet those targets. Have alternative options to ensure that disappointments and delays do not put a dent in your progress. Have in mind who you need to help you get your business up and running. If you need to hire, find a qualified and enthusiastic person to help you bring your vision to life. If you cannot afford to hire, find friends and family who are willing to help you in their spare time.
- Understand and identify a fitting business structure:
When starting a business, it is very crucial to know exactly what business structure best fits the type of business you have in mind. The various business structures are partnership, limited liability company, sole proprietorship and corporation. These structures work best for specific business plans. For example, a hairdresser who wants to open a shop in her community may choose the sole proprietorship business type.
- Plan your finances:
Make use of a spreadsheet(microsoft excel) to plan your financial budget. Select a time period eg. 12 months, and indicate what needs money and how much it requires. (eg. Sewing machines — GHS 4000). Also have a plan for where your financial resources are going to come from. This could be angel investments which is; money given by an affluent person in exchange for shares in exchange for ownership in your business. You could also apply for small business loans from trustworthy banks and financial ventures. Crowdfunding is also an efficient method for accruing capital to start your business. This is more of an age-old concept that has been revolutionized to fit modern times. You can set a target and ask the general public to donate to your cause. You just have to be honest and clear on what your goals are. This way, those donating are assured that their contributions are going towards a commendable venture.
- Find a business name:
Do some introspection, find a name that suits you, brings you happiness and fits the business you are starting. This name should also give the public or your target audience an idea of what you are about. eg) John Apreku’s retail business may be called “John & Sons Provision Shop”.
- Register your business name:
Check to make sure that the name you chose isn’t currently in use by another business or worse, trademarked. If it is taken by another business, you can either change it or make sure that it is not trademarked by that company. If it is not trademarked, you may use it though it is advised that you change it. But do so with the warning that the name similarity may confuse your target market or public. If it is trademarked, you definitely have to change it.
- Get permits:
Ensure that you have all the necessary legal paperwork required by law, in your country, to legitimise your business. Ensure that you get all your permits and paperwork in order.
- Find an accounting avenue:
Accounting is a very important aspect of any business. This is a must. Make sure that aspect is being fulfilled and proper financial documentation is done at every point. You can use different means to ensure this. You can work on your accounting system yourself. If your budget will allow it, hire an accountant. You can also use an accounting software such as SageOne.
- Choose a business location:
Make a decision as to where you want to operate your business. This could be at a shared office space, a home office or a definite location where you want to put up a structure to house your business. As an example, Suhaidatu who has a Graphic Design business, works out of her home office. She has carved out a little space in her house with a desk and the right ambiance to help her achieve maximum efficiency.
- Pick a system to help you manage your overall business:
In the modern world, depending on written, non-digitised modes of keeping records of sales, stock and orders is not the most advisable. Find an business management system, like KudiGo StoreFront, to help you stay on top of all your business processes. A good system will help you maintain oversight of your business at all times. It would keep a complete record of sales made by your shop. It would also be really beneficial to be able to connect to an ecommerce platform eg. (StoreFront Mall) so that you can sell to your customers and buyers online. As a small business, it is imperative that you keep track of every dime that you put into your operations. This ensures that you are able to note processes that accrues profit and avenues that bring losses. KudiGo StoreFront does all these things and it was specifically made for the African market. It is also integrated with SageOne, thus acting as a one-stop solution for all your bookkeeping, accounting, payments and records needs.
- Have a marketing plan:
Have a plan of how you want to promote your business. Your previous customers may be a good source of business promotion. Encourage them to recommend you to other potential customers. As previously stated, our global stake in technology needs to be acknowledged. You need to find social media platforms to advertise, or post your content (videos, pictures, client testimonials). Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn are all examples of social media platforms that are prime for business advertisement.
- Develop a good customer service front:
This is one of the most crucial elements in determining the success of any business. From mega corporations to roadside indomie stalls, customer relations is a very important factor to failure that should not be undermined in any situation. A few placed choice words, a soothing tone and a personable facial expression can turn a seemingly hopeless situation (with clients, suppliers) into a desired, rewarding transaction. Take lessons on how to deal with customers and effective modes of communicating with others at all times.
These are a few simple tips to help you realize your entrepreneurial ambitions.
Remember that it is crucial for you to have a system that helps you be on top of all aspects of your business at all times. KudiGo StoreFront assures business owners of complete oversight, customer records, sales records, sales agents / inventory / expenses / supplier / online shop management and accessibility.
Go forth and start your dream business!!
African Entrepreneurial Journey: Easy, modern ways to start a business in Africa. was originally published in KudiGo Inc on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.